Memories of Cuban television

Memories of Cuban television

Film & Television

Alejandro Rodríguez Ruiz

An entertainment, informational and cultural medium, practically irreplaceable in these times, television officially debuted in Cuba some seven decades ago. The first transmission took place on October 24, 1950 through Channel 4, belonging to Union Radio Televisión, owned by Gaspar Pumarejo, on a remote control from the Presidential Palace, with the intervention of the then Head of State, Carlos Prío.

After that initial broadcast, which presented a pack of Competidora Gaditana cigars with a jingle by the popular Guarachero Ñico Saquito as the first image, on December 18 of the same year, Channel 6 of Goar Mestre's CMQ Television aired experimentally.

This new channel, which regularized its broadcasts on March 11, 1951, emerged with a dramatic program written by Marcos Behemaras, starring actors Alejandro Lugo and Maritza Rosales. Pumarejo had improvised his television studios in his own home, on Mazón and San Miguel streets, while his strong competitor Mestre built on 23rd avenue between L and M streets the new Radiocentro building, a cinema, radio and television complex. with a gallery of
shops.

Unión Radio Televisión established links with RCA Víctor and CMQ did so with Dumont, both US companies that produce receivers, cameras and other equipment necessary for broadcasting. Antecedent to the definitive start of the broadcast medium on the island, is considered a demonstration organized in December, 1946 by Julio Vega and the actress, singer and vedette María de los Ángeles Santana from a car agency located on the corner of 23 and P, with a signal that reached 15 miles away, up to the Paseo del Prado, where television sets were placed in shop windows and public places.

Cuba was the third country in Latin America to establish television, after Mexico, which started it on August 31, 1950, and Brazil, on September 18, but it was the first in Latin America and the second in the world, after the United States to broadcast it in color.

On March 19, 1958, Channel 12, owned by Gaspar Pumarejo, was inaugurated with fully color broadcasts from the Habana Hilton Hotel, now Habana Libre.

Starting in 1959, with the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, television companies were nationalized and this broadcast medium went from being private to public, with programming that, in addition to provide entertainment, gives relevance to social issues, culture, politics, and the economy..